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The Different Types of Begonias

Canes: Cane begonias have been popular plants for many years and were
probably grown by your Grandmother who called them "Angel Wing" begonias.
Many types have been created since then and those grown by your Grandmother
are probably still in cultivation. There are several types of canes in varying sizes
but they all have in common tough stems that have a bamboo appearance, which
gives them the cane handle. The superba canes generally grow the largest and
can have leaves up to about 14 inches long and can grow to 12 feet high. They
are usually kept smaller and more compact than that though. They have leaves
that are cut and most types have silver spots or splashes on them. They have
large flower clusters and some are fragrant. They are most popular in the
southern states where they are grown outdoors in frost free areas but can also be
grown quite well indoors or in a greenhouse. Two begonia hybridizers, Irene
Nuss and Belva Kusler created many of the first superbas to become popular, and Irene's hybrid B.'Irene Nuss' and
Belva's B.'Sophie Cecile' are the two most widely circulated superbas of all time. The other most popular type of cane
is the type formally called "angel wing" begonias. These come in every size from types commonly grown in baskets
to large upright plants but all have the familiar pointed leaf shape that gave them their former common name. This
type is still widely grown and many new hybrids are created every year. Many have silver spotted/splashed leaves and
some have different serrated edges. Most are heavy bloomers, some even everbloomers. There are other types which
fall somewhere between the two types mentioned above and there is also the mallet type canes. These are not as widely
grown because they are more tender. They have leaves in various colors, most purple, pink or white. They are
spectacular looking.

Shrubs: Shrubs are also very variable and can range in size from miniatures to
giants 12 feet tall. Some varieties have leaves up to 24 inches long under perfect
conditions. The leaf surface is also variable and some have smooth shiny leaves
and other types have hairy or felted leaves. This type gets its name from the way
it grows with many shoots coming up from the soil to make a full plant like any
other shrub you would grow. They are very multi-stemmed. Most varieties do
not bloom as often or as heavily as the cane type but there are many that are
ever blooming and are used as bedding plants across the country. The shrub type
is grown mostly for it's ease of growing, interesting leaves, and full growth.
Most shrubs have white flowers but there are plenty of pink and red ones also,
and many have hairy flowers.

Rhizomatous: The rhizomatous types are grown mostly for their interesting
leaves and compact growth but they have the added bonus of a massive display
of flowers, usually in the spring, that cover the whole plant. Most are spring
blooming but there are a few that bloom all year. They range in size from tiny
miniature to large plants like B.'Freddie' that can have 3 foot leaves under
optimum conditions (one growing outdoors in Hawaii grew that large). The
plants can also grow very large across but don't reach great heighth, because
they grow from rhizomes that creep along the ground, which gives this type its
name. The rhizomatous types are popular all across the country and one in
particular B.'Erythrophylla' was probably grown by your Grandmother, who
called it a beef steak begonia because of it's large round leaves. (I know I've said
grown by your Grandmother several times but I don't want to give you the

impression that begonias are only grown by grandmothers, I only want to reaquaint you with past memories and give
you an idea of how long begonias have been around) Some types of rhizomatous have intricate patterns on their leaves
in almost any earthtone color, some are hairy leaved, some are round and shiny, and some are star shaped. There is
really no end to the variety of leaf shape, color and texture in this type of begonia, there is something for every taste.

Semperflorens: This type of begonia is probably the most widely grown


begonia and in some parts of the country is called "wax type" because of the
waxy look to the leaves. These begonias are grown mostly as bedding plants and
annuals but are really a perennial shrub type of begonia in areas that don't freeze.
All have rounded leaves and are ever-blooming and the flowers come in every
shade of red, pink and white. The leaves come mostly in two colors, green and
bronze, but there are variegated types such as B. `Charm' and calla types with
new leaves that come out white. The flowers come in single and double types.
Some of the species semperflorens have felted white or brown leaves.

Tuberous: The tuberous type of begonia is also very popular around the world
as a bedding plant and also as a greenhouse plant. In some countries such as
England it is the main type grown. The tuberous types are grown for theirflowers
although there are a few varieties and speciess which have interesting leaves
and growth. The flower size can range from small 1/2 inch flowers to the large
exhibition types that can have flowers the size of dinner plates. The flowers
range in type from singles to full doubles and come in every color exept shades
of blue. There are even flowers with different color edges and some are scented.
The plant types range from trailing types that are grown in hanging baskets with
pendulant flowers to sturdy upright plants. The tuberous types grow from tubers
and go dormant during short days during the fall and winter. They are restarted
in the spring. Another related type is the semi-tuberous which don't have a tuber
but which have form a caudex at the base. This caudex is like a large swollen stem from which many smaller stems
grow. Most semi-tuberous have small leaves and small white flowers, but at least a couple are pink. They make almost
a natural bonzai with their swollen base and small stems and leaves.

Rex Cultorum: Rex begonias are the showboats of the begonia world and are a
type of rhizomatous begonia that are grown for their multicolored leaves. Their
leaves come in every color, pattern and shade, and every size and shape. All Rex
Culturum types are descended from the Indian speciess B. rex that was crossed
with other tyes of rhizomatous begonias. Rex begonias do bloom but are not
grown for their blooms which pale in comparison to their spectacular leaves.

Trailing/Scandent: The trailing type of begonias are grown mostly for their
trailing habit but put on a spectacular show of flowers, usually in the spring. Some
of the newer varieties have a longer blooming period or are everblooming. Most
have glossy leaves and look like a philodendron, but there are types that get large
leaves and will climb. In their native habitat these types will climb up the trunks of
trees. Most of the trailing types have white or pink flowers. Scandent refers to
begonias that climb and use roots to attach to trees, rocks, steep banks, and walls.

Thick-stemmed: The thick-stemmed types are not as widely grown but come in
various forms. The common factor between them is their very thick stems. Most
thick-stemmed types don't branch much but send up new growth from the base.
They also show off the thick stems because they drop their lower leaves and usually
only have leaves on the tips. These can be very attractive and are definitely unusual
if you're looking for something different to grow. One thick-stemmed B. valida
even has cream variegation during the warm months of the year.